Water cooperation promotes peace

GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — Cooperation across borders on shared water resources can help avert conflicts and build peace, the United Nations said on Friday, urging all countries to join its Water Convention. 

The UN stressed that with climate change and rising water scarcity worldwide, cross-border water cooperation was increasingly crucial for regional stability and conflict prevention.

“Water and peace are very closely inter-related,” Sonja Koeppel, secretary of the UN Water Convention, told Agence France-Presse.

She pointed out that more than 60 percent of all freshwater resources are shared by two or more countries, including major rivers like the Rhine and the Danube in Europe, the Mekong in Asia, the Nile in Africa and the Amazon in Latin America.

“Cooperating over those waters is crucial for peace, for development for climate action,” she said.

Water is such a vital resource, she said, that it has the power to bring countries in conflict to the table, opening the door to cooperation in other areas as well.

India and Pakistan, for instance, have a cooperation agreement on use of the Indus river.

And an agreement reached by Senegal, Mauritania, Guinea and The Gambia in the 1970s over the Senegal Basin has enabled them jointly to finance and build infrastructure that distributes water to all four countries.